Cooperation of cell adhesion and autophagy in the brain: Functional roles in development and neurodegenerative disease

Matrix Biol Plus. 2021 Oct 23;12:100089. doi: 10.1016/j.mbplus.2021.100089. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Cellular adhesive connections directed by the extracellular matrix (ECM) and maintenance of cellular homeostasis by autophagy are seemingly disparate functions that are molecularly intertwined, each regulating the other. This is an emerging field in the brain where the interplay between adhesion and autophagy functions at the intersection of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration. The ECM and adhesion proteins regulate autophagic responses to direct protein clearance and guide regenerative programs that go awry in brain disorders. Concomitantly, autophagic flux acts to regulate adhesion dynamics to mediate neurite outgrowth and synaptic plasticity with functional disruption contributed by neurodegenerative disease. This review highlights the cooperative exchange between cellular adhesion and autophagy in the brain during health and disease. As the mechanistic alliance between adhesion and autophagy has been leveraged therapeutically for metastatic disease, understanding overlapping molecular functions that direct the interplay between adhesion and autophagy might uncover therapeutic strategies to correct or compensate for neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Adhesion; Autophagy; Extracellular matrix; Huntington’s disease; Integrin; Neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

  • Review